License to krill

ReefBot water tester Review

rygh

Webmaster
Staff member
As some may know, I bought a ReefBot automatic water tester about a month ago.
https://www.reefkinetics.com
Unlike the others, this is basically a robot with vials, servos, syringes that mimics how you test.
IMG_0060.jpg IMG_0061.jpg

General:
It does work, I am glad I have it, but it has a ways to go to be perfect.

Why did I pick ReefBot?
1) I knew it would work.
It just mechanizes tests I do myself. No new fancy testing methods.
Just a robot to do what I procrastinate on doing.
2) It was available.
Other devices are out of stock, may not exist, or who knows.
3) It does the tests I do now.
I want Calcium + Alkalinity + Phosphate.
As a bonus it can do Nitrate or Magnesium. For now I chose Nitrate.
4) It uses standard reagents.
No problems getting those long term, and they are cheap.

Would I recommend it?
Well ... maybe ... somewhat.
If you are fairly DIY friendly and have a really large tank it could work well for you.
My real recommendation if you are not sure - WAIT.
Wait for longer term reviews on ReefBot, Trident, and Mindstream.
Wait for generation 2 on all of them, after they fix the inevitable problems.
Mindstream is the best if you look at raw features, But I am highly skeptical.
Trident will likely be the best integrated, with the best productization and support.

Setup:
It is trivial to unbox and get going.
Although the documents could have been a little bit better.
I did have an issue with some errant packing foam, but no big deal.
However: This thing is BIG.
Full installation means finding a good spot for the box and RODI and Waste water.
This is a big deal if your sump is crowded.

Testing ability and accuracy:
It uses standard API/Salifert reagents, and generally mimics the tests you do.
This, the results match what you do.
For example:
Machine reports 10 dkH using API. If I use API, I get exactly the same thing.
If I use Salifert, I get around 9.8. Within the margin of error.
So I would call it "accurate."
Certainly accurate enough for our needs, and no worse than current testing.
You get 8 spots for reagents. You can mix and match to decide what you want.
There is a growing list of tests it can perform.
But in general, you will most like test: Alkalinity, Calcium, Phosphate, then either Magnesium or Nitrate.
You can set your tests from hourly to yearly. Fully programmable.
And each test type can have a different rate. Like Alk daily and Nitrate weekly.

Reliability:
So far there has only been one "failure" where the little magnet stirrer popped out.
They provided spares. And it should be somewhere in the box anyway.
Tests work reliably and values are repeatable.
However, there are two concerns long term:
The enclosure is not even splash resistant, let alone moisture.
There are quite a few moving parts.
So I do worry about long term corrosion and wear.

Maintenance:
You need to empty waste water and fill RODI water.
You can in theory make both of those unlimited with the right setup, but otherwise
weekly to monthly depending on container sizes.
You need to change the syringe every 60 tests.
You need to change the reagents when empty, which varies.
The app warns you on maintenance items before it fails.

Reagent use:
This is one thing that gave a bit of a surprise.
Some reagents, especially Alk, are used far more than expected per test,
where others are fairly normal.
But even then, it is not some huge amount.
I hear they are working on this.

Costs:
Initial cost is large. $800.
Reagent and long term costs are very cheap since it uses off the shelf reagents,
plus you can adjust how often you test.

Phone App:
Everything is done through their phone app. Smartphone is required to operate.
I would call the app reliable but mediocre.
It works. It has most features. It does not crash.
But it is rather confusing to use, and is missing a few things.
But I do believe they are working to improve it.
 

A Aaron

Supporting Member
A lot of your observations were things I thought about. The amount of moving parts and the tolerances they need to retain worry’s me long term. Definitely wouldn’t mind having one.
 

sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
Yup put me into the wait for gen 2 crowd... well unless I win one in a rafffle :D

I might so put "restrictive" for the Trident as the 4/2/2 minimum is a bit off putting for some. Is this a mechanical requirement (otherwise lines clog?) Or is this a Gilette business model?

Eitherway I do like where things are going for the hobby with regards to how this is working out
 

grizfyrfyter

Supporting Member
Yup put me into the wait for gen 2 crowd... well unless I win one in a rafffle :D

I might so put "restrictive" for the Trident as the 4/2/2 minimum is a bit off putting for some. Is this a mechanical requirement (otherwise lines clog?) Or is this a Gilette business model?

Eitherway I do like where things are going for the hobby with regards to how this is working out
From my understanding, it's to make sure the test solutions are used before they degrade and give inaccurate results.... At least that's what Neptune claims. I'm cynical though.

Reef Geek 3D Printing
 

JVU

BOD
Staff member
Great write-up and review Mark, thank you! It’ll be interesting to get updates to see how the unit handles wear and tear.
 
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rygh

Webmaster
Staff member
I assume it reads and track the results for each test....?

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
Yes, it reads and puts it on a graph.
It can also email you and text you values if you want.
Plus, in the email, it actually shows you the colors at each number.
alk.png
 

sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
I'm curious about all the color sensing technology that it uses, I assume it may have some possibly issues like the Hanna checker though, and if your water is unusually yellow or you have some salt creep/crud on the vials you'll get a drastically different result?
 

rygh

Webmaster
Staff member
I'm curious about all the color sensing technology that it uses, I assume it may have some possibly issues like the Hanna checker though, and if your water is unusually yellow or you have some salt creep/crud on the vials you'll get a drastically different result?
Looking at what the send, it is clearly not the same colors as you see with your eye.
But from what I understand, they picked the LED and camera to be fairly optimal, so it may be better.
It seems like there must be a reason they did not simply use a simple white LED.

And it is the same titration test and chemicals you do by hand.
So the error due to water coloration in theory should be no worse for the machine than for you.
 

sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
Well that's where the human eye may be better though. You might not notice subtle variations due yellow water or crud but the sensor may detect thst and get you some false positive
 

Coral reefer

BOD
Staff member
At least it won’t be unsure of what color it sees and waffle back and forth until it curses the damn test kit and wonders why it bothers in the first place.
I’m looking at you all nitrate tests ever...
And all non Hanna checker phosphate kits...
 

grizfyrfyter

Supporting Member
At least it won’t be unsure of what color it sees and waffle back and forth until it curses the damn test kit and wonders why it bothers in the first place.
I’m looking at you all nitrate tests ever...
And all non Hanna checker phosphate kits...
There are phone apps that will do the color comparison for you.

Reef Geek 3D Printing
 

rygh

Webmaster
Staff member
So after another month....

Still running solidly.

I am getting used to maintenence. It is pretty easy.
Dump the waste water weekly.
Add new Alk test reagent every 2 weeks.
Set up Amazon to automatically ship new API test every month.
Very rarely change other things, as needed when emailed from app.

I am disliking the app more and more though.
Functions are all there, but a mess to work with.
It takes me longer to tell the system that I dumped the waste water than it does to actually dump it.
Neptune Fusion is WAY better.
 

rygh

Webmaster
Staff member
Seems like waste should be automated
I may get around to that some day.
But that is a known ReefBot problem - the perstaltic pumps they use for RO/Tank/Waste are not very big.
As such, the head pressure/suction on those lines is fairly limited.
So a big long line from the Reefbot to the drain is a problem for me.
 

jccaclimber

Supporting Member
I may get around to that some day.
But that is a known ReefBot problem - the perstaltic pumps they use for RO/Tank/Waste are not very big.
As such, the head pressure/suction on those lines is fairly limited.
So a big long line from the Reefbot to the drain is a problem for me.
This is an ugly hack, but what about putting a beefier peristaltic pump like the 50 mL/min BRS pumps drawing from the waste container? Run it for X seconds (or minutes) per day to a larger waste container/drain of your choice. It won't mind sucking air, so just set it to run longer than needed. Doesn't fix the software issue, but at least you won't have to empty the container.
 
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